Above The Rim(R) Launches Youth Development Grant Program, A.T.R. Project (Assisting The Rise)
Inaugural grants announced for mentoring organizations in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle
Englewood, CO – March 4, 2011 – Performance basketball brand Above the Rim® (ATR) announced today the launch of the A.T.R. Project (Assisting The Rise)™, the brand’s community-based youth development grant program, and identified the first three organizations that will receive the inaugural grants.
Aligned with the recently relaunched ATR brand targeting young, passionate players with a compelling new brand message: Elevate Your Game. Elevate Your Team. Elevate Yourself, the A.T.R. Project was created to identify and support a growing group of community leaders from across the United States who are dedicated to mentoring and assisting the rise of young players in their communities. These ambassadors help the players channel the passion that they have for the game of basketball into other important areas of their lives including education and community service.
As part of the program’s formal launch, inaugural grants have been awarded to three non-profit mentoring programs - New York’s The Beyond Basketball Foundation co-founded by Bernard Bowen, Better Through Basketball in Los Angeles directed by Charles “Chuck” Torres, and Seattle’s A PLUS Youth Program led by Tavio Hobson. Throughout the year, the three programs will be given assistance and funding from ATR to help elevate the performance of its young athletes on and off the court, as well as ATR performance basketball shoes from retail partner Payless ShoeSource. Grants were awarded based on each program's outstanding record of mentoring and assisting young players within their communities.
“ATR understands that education and sport have the power to make a difference in young people’s lives,” said Bruce Pettet, president and CEO at Collective Licensing International, LLC (CLI), the company that manages the ATR brand. “We are proud to support these programs. They are not only providing young athletes with the tools and knowledge to become better basketball players, but they are also giving players the resources to succeed in life.”
Bronx native Bowen is the co-founder of The Beyond Basketball Foundation, a non-profit organization that uses the sport of basketball as a tool to motivate and encourage kids from New York’s inner-city neighborhoods to strive for success on and off the court. The Foundation is using ATR assistance to support the Tru Ballaz Middle School Winter League in the Bronx. The tournament features some of the nation’s top young athletes and allows them to hone their skills as both individuals and players.
“The A.T.R. Project funding will allow our participants to be part of something special and at the same time demonstrate to them that there is more to life than just basketball,” Bowen said. “The most important lesson we can teach these young players is how to meaningfully give back to their community. The A.T.R. Project is giving us the essential tools to provide the guidance and mentorship that will inspire all to reach their full potential.”
A non-profit organization, Better Through Basketball provides basketball and mentoring programs to young players in Whittier, Calif. Torres, co-founder and director of Better Through Basketball, said the organization plans to use the financial support from the A.T.R. Project to elevate the overall experience for its participants by providing equipment, specialized training sessions, college visits and field trips.
Founded by Hobson, A PLUS Youth Program provides local players with a strong academic foundation while also developing personal athletic skills. A PLUS promotes messages of perseverance, resiliency and leadership to young individuals in the Seattle community. Through A.T.R. Project funding, A PLUS mentors have scheduled bi-monthly outings for its members to participate in off-court enrichment activities including college tours, theatre, festivals and sporting events. With the support provided by ATR, A PLUS will award a $1,000 educational scholarship to each mentee after a completion of six successful months in the program.
Originally founded in 1989, Above the Rim was re-launched by CLI in late October 2010 as an aspirational and accessible brand of performance basketball footwear and apparel. Targeting passionate, young, rising players, ATR is defined by its brand message: Elevate Your Game. Elevate Your Team. Elevate Yourself. Above The Rim. ™ The foundation of the brand is ATR’s grassroots program designed to support and impact communities on a local level. Additionally, ATR is committed to supporting its roster of rising NBA players including Martell Webster of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Will Bynum of the Detroit Pistons.
About Collective Licensing International, LLC.
Collective Licensing International, LLC, a subsidiary of Collective Brands, Inc. (NYSE:PSS), was formed in January 2004 and is the owner and/or license operator of Airwalk®, Above The Rim®, Vision Street Wear®, Clinch Gear™, STRIKEFORCE™, Sims®, Lamar® and LTD®, World Snowboarding Championships™ and Hind®. Collective Licensing International is based in Englewood, Colorado. www.collectiveintl.com
About Collective Brands, Inc.
Collective Brands, Inc. (NYSE: PSS) is a leader in bringing compelling lifestyle, fashion and performance brands for footwear and related accessories to consumers worldwide. The company operates three strategic units covering a powerful brand portfolio, as well as multiple price points and selling channels including retail, wholesale, ecommerce and licensing. Collective Brands, Inc. includes Payless ShoeSource, focused on democratizing fashion and design in footwear and accessories through its nearly 4,500-store retail chain, with its brands Airwalk®, Dexter®, Champion® and designer collections Lela Rose for Payless, Christian Siriano for Payless and Isabel Toledo for Payless, among others; Collective Brands Performance + Lifestyle Group, focused on lifestyle and performance branded footwear sold primarily through wholesale and retail, with brands including Stride Rite®, Keds®, Sperry Top-Sider®, and Saucony®; and Collective Licensing International, the brand development, management and global licensing unit, with such youth lifestyle brands as Airwalk®, Vision Street Wear®, Sims®, Lamar® and LTD®. Information about, and links for shopping on, each of the Collective Brand’s units can be found at www.collectivebrands.com.